Pregnancy- how to survive it!

08.05.2015

Kate left the hospital looking amazing after giving birth recently. The Royals can’t win can they?  She is being criticised from some for having her hair done and wearing makeup when she left the hospital while others are condemning her for having a baby bump.   What is going on????  I’m sorry, but if I knew that the whole world was going to be waiting for me outside the hospital door after I’d had my babies I would have my slap on and the straighteners at the ready! If Kate hadn’t put her face on and her hair was a mess can you imagine the front page of the papers? They’d have had a field day. And as for her post -natal bump…SHE’S JUST HAD A BABY!!!!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!

If you read my previous blog, The Perfect Body, what is it? you will have seen my rant about the pressure that people are under to look a certain perfect way. Apparently, this also goes for women who have had a baby. If you don’t give birth and immediately pull on a size 8 pair of skinny jeans then what is wrong with you??

Once again, celebs seem to be perfect human beings; no wobbly bits, no stretch marks, no varicose veins , no evidence that they have been through the most natural process in the world. Big up photo shop, lipo suction, the crash diets! Of course, there will be people who do ping back into shape quickly and who hardly showed throughout their pregnancy, we are all different. It depends on what you were like before you were pregnant, were you already overweight? Did you avoid being physically active? Did you choose a MacDonald’s over fruit and veg? Did you eat for two throughout the nine months? If yes then it’s not surprising that you may be struggling to lose the postnatal weight.

So, what actually happens to the body?

Over the nine months a women’s body will change dramatically. Less curvaceous women will suddenly be equipped with boobs that resemble Russian missiles. You will watch in horror/wonder as your waistline disappears, the bonus is that it turns into a rather handy portable tray for your cup and plate.  Some women positively glow while others look anything but there best.

Sick!

In the first trimester 0 -13 weeks, a hormone is released that causes relaxation of the blood vessels. The volume of blood isn’t enough to fill the blood vessels and these results in low blood pressure and a decrease in the amount of blood in and out of the heart. This can make the women feel sick, very tired and feel dizzy when you get up quickly. By the end of the fourth month the body triggers the release of more hormones which produces water retention and this increases the blood volume- basically, the body produces more blood to meet the demands of mum and baby so that mum should start to feel better.

Sweaty!

Overheating of both mum and baby during exercise is a common concern, particularly the increase in core temperature which could damage the baby. Rest assured; pregnant women are able to sweat more to ensure that the core temperature is kept at a comfortable level. So, it is important to keep hydration levels up and to avoid exercising in excessive heat.

Stretchy!

A hormone called relaxin is released which softens ligaments, cartilage and the cervix which all help during delivery. But all of the body is affected and if overstretching is performed it could result in permanent damage to the tissue. Only stretch to a sensible level- the fact that you can now wrap your leg around your neck should be avoided!!!

Insulin

Insulin resistance increases during pregnancy which makes the mum’s energy utilisation similar to a mild diabetic. I out of 300 women will have gestational diabetes. This normally goes back to normal post-delivery.

Bad back!

Not surprisingly the weight of the growing baby alters your centre of gravity when standing or sitting, it can be a while until you see your toes again!! There is a lot of strain on your lower back. It’s important to work on your posture to stop the curve from becoming too pronounced. Stand in front of a wall with you back against it, tilt your pelvis forward until you feel the small of your back press against the wall, relax to a neutral position and repeat x 8

Exercise

Being physically active might be the last thing you want to do; early pregnancy when you feel sick and tired to late pregnancy when just lugging your body around is a workout in its self! It doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise, even doing gentle exercise can help you to have more energy, relax and recover from child birth more quickly.

Make sure that you tell the instructor that you’re pregnant. They will want to know how far you are and how many are in there! Also, they will need to know your fitness history.  It’s not a good idea to take up a new activity and it’s wise to avoid contact sports and activity where there is a risk of falling. You should make sure that your instructor is qualified to train you.

Exercise can be continued throughout pregnancy. I have trained lots of pregnant women over the years and as long as they are comfortable to carry on and there are no complications then it should be encouraged.

Remember- you don’t need to try and improve your fitness levels from before you are pregnant, you are maintaining your fitness levels so don’t overdo it! Your bump will prevent you from becoming super athlete of the year as it does tend to get in the way after a while!!

Why should you exercise?

What exercise should you do?

What should you avoid?

Do not exercise if you have any of the following:

Weight gain

For mums who have always worked hard at keeping to a healthy weight it can cause them to worry. Standing on the scales watching them creep up can be alarming but the weight gain is for a good reason and is necessary. The increase in blood, baby, placenta all contribute to weight gain and by being sensible with food choices and being active you will be able to return to your original weight. Medical professionals will be more worried if you are not putting weight on as this can be harmful to the baby.

What to eat

Small meals throughout the day can be better than one big meal. Early pregnancy can be very hard – with the galloping hormones being released in to the body and for some morning sickness which lasts all day it can really play havoc with eating! If you are suffering from excessive sickness make sure you speak to your GP. One poor friend of mine has recently spent the first five months of her pregnancy with her head in a bowl- not much fun! Not long now Jodie….!

What to avoid

Post-natal

I have had women coming into the gym literally the day after giving birth wanting to work out. 1) Where have they got the time and energy from to be here in the first place and 2) why??? We obviously advise them to go home!

It’s recommended that new mum’s don’t carry anything heavier than the baby for two weeks and not to go back to physical activity for six weeks once they have the all clear. C section births should avoid exercise for 12 weeks.

I also have women who say that they want to get rid of their ‘baby fat’ when I ask how old their baby is the answer back is “22”. Hmmmm….

The body has gone through so many changes it needs to adjust back gradually, the last thing it wants is a punishing workout and crash diets. As one of the ladies in my class said yesterday, the weight took nine months to put on; it’ll take nine months to get off. It’s not going to go over night, don’t beat yourself up over it, you’ve got a lovely little baby as a result of the last nine months, be patient! Weight loss in general is achieved by eating sensibly, cutting out rubbish and being physically active so why should new mums be any different?

Post-natal exercise

You will now know the meaning of sleep deprivation and why it was a successful form of torture during the war! You might think that being physically active is another form of torture but it will help you to;

I want to say to all you new mummy’s out there, relax! Enjoy this precious time with your new born, they grow so quickly.

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